Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is a French region that was created on January 1, 2016 by merging the former regions of Burgundy and Franche-Comté. The capital of the region is Dijon.

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is the fifth largest region (excluding overseas regions) at 47,963 square kilometers and has 2,801,695 inhabitants (as of 2020), making it the third smallest region by population. It is divided into the eight departments of Côte-d'Or, Doubs, Haute-Saône, Jura, Nièvre, Saône-et-Loire, Territoire de Belfort and Yonne. It borders (clockwise from the north) the Grand Est region, Switzerland, and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Centre-Val de Loire and Île-de-France regions.





Getting here

The nearest airports are Lyon-Saint Exupery Airport (IATA: LYS) (south), EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg (IATA: BSL, MLH, EAP) (northeast) and Geneva Airport (IATA: GVA) (south) and Paris Airport -Orly (IATA: ORY)




The composition of the region into departments is as follows.

The region is located in the northeast quarter of France. It borders the Grand Est regions to the north, Île-de-France and Centre-Val de Loire to the west, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes to the south, and it shares a border with Switzerland to the east.

The Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, which results from the merger of two local authorities (Bourgogne and Franche-Comté) decided as part of the territorial reform of 2014, covers 47,784 km2. It is, in area, the fifth of the thirteen regions of metropolitan France (ie 9% of metropolitan territory), and thus has a territory of comparable size to countries such as Slovakia, Switzerland or Estonia. It is one of the two constituent regions of the French Grand Est with the Grand Est region.



The subsoil contains clay, sandstone, limestone (which provides, for example, the building stones of Châtillonnais, Comblanchien and Molay), gypsum and alluvium (sandpits of Lure) exploited in quarries and many resources formerly exploited in mines such as precious metals, iron ore and rock salt: in the Jura (salines of Arc-et-Senans, Salins-les-Bains and Lons-le-Saunier) and in Haute-Saône with the saltworks of Gouhenans, Saulnot and Mélecey.

The main resource of the subsoil is coal, the extraction of which has been abandoned since the second half of the 20th century, mainly located in the south of Burgundy with the coal mines of Blanzy made up of three deposits: Blanzy, Épinac and Decize surrounded by small sites that have remained independent: La Chapelle-sous-Dun and Aubigny-la-Ronce. The important deposit of the Sud Nivernais discovered quite recently (its existence was made public in 1986) is not exploited so as not to harm the environment. To the east, the coal basins of the Vosges and the Jura have three deposits on Comtois territory: the sub-Vosges and the Keupérien basin have been exploited to a lesser extent than Blanzy, only the Ronchamp coal mines, closed in 1958, having been industrialized; the Jura Stephanian basin is only prospected and only small quantities of gas were extracted there until 1964. Anthracite is extracted in Sincey-lès-Rouvray until 1908 and lignite formerly exploited in Côte-d'Or , in the Yonne and in the Doubs. The subsoil also contains oil shale, mined industrially until 1957 in the Telots mine in the Autun oil shale deposit and more briefly, in the interwar period, in that of Creveney, not far from Vesoul.



Three main mountain ranges mark the landscape. The Vosges massif is located to the northeast, the highest point in the region is the Ballon d'Alsace (1,247 meters). The Jura extends over the entire eastern limit and culminates in the homonymous department at the Pela crest (1,495 meters), the latter is also the highest peak in the region. The Vosges and the Jura meet in the Gap of Belfort. The Morvan occupies a central place in the western part, its highest point is the Haut-Folin (901 meters).

Other more modest massifs exist. North-east of the Morvan is the Côte d'Or, an escarpment created by the formation of a rift, which rises to 641 meters above sea level. The Massif Central reaches the southern part of the region through the Mâconnais which is dominated by Mont Saint-Cyr (771 metres).



The main navigable rivers are the Saône and the Doubs. The Loire crosses the south-west of the region at the level of Nevers but it is not practicable because of the sandbanks. The Seine also has its source in Côte-d'Or.

Part of the regional hydrographic network has its source in neighboring Switzerland (notably the Allan watershed).

The region has dozens of lakes, such as Lac des Rousses, Lac de Chalain, Lac du Vernois, Lac de Lamoura, Lac de Vesoul-Vaivre, Lac de Saint-Point (3rd largest natural lake in France), Lac de Remoray , Lac de Bonlieu, Lac de Narlay, Lac des Settons, Lac de Pannecière and the famous Lac de Vouglans which is the third largest artificial reservoir in France with 605 million cubic meters. In the Saônoises Vosges is the Mille Etangs plateau.


Axes of communication and transport

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is a crossroads between Germany, Switzerland, Italy to the east and Île-de-France, the French Atlantic coast to the west, but also between Benelux to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.


Road transport

The region is made up of a network of 868 km of motorways: the main motorway axis is the A6, known as the Autoroute du Soleil, which connects Paris and Lyon by crossing the region from north-west to south over nearly 300 km and serves the towns of Auxerre, Beaune, Chalon-sur-Saône and Mâcon. The second major motorway is the A36, nicknamed La Comtoise, which leaves from Beaune, in the center of the region, and heads east to reach Alsace and the German border at Mulhouse. Covering approximately 200 km within Burgundy-Franche-Comté, it serves the towns of Dole, Besançon, Montbéliard and Belfort. Covering 120 km on the regional territory, the A39 connects Dijon to the south of the region along a north-south axis which makes it possible to relieve the A6 by passing near Dole and Lons-le-Saunier. Starting from Beaune to the north, the A31 (80 km in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté) allows you to reach Lorraine and Luxembourg via Dijon. The A77 motorway exclusively serves the department of Nièvre over 80 km, along a north-south axis along the western limit of the region: it connects Nevers to Île-de-France. A few minor motorway bars complete the network, the A5 (40 km), the A19 (30 km), the A38 (40 km), the A40 (3 km), the A406 (2 km), the A391 (4 km), the A311 (5 km).

The main road network is supplemented by 768 km of national roads. Linking Nancy to the Franco-Swiss border along a north-south route, national road 57 runs 180 km through the departments of Haute-Saône and Doubs, passing through Luxeuil-les-Bains, Vesoul, Besançon and Pontarlier. The N151 connects Auxerre to La Charité-sur-Loire (100 km) via Clamecy. The N19 Langres-Belfort which has a hundred kilometers from east to west through the Haute-Saône serves Vesoul and Lure. In Saône-et-Loire, the N79 which crosses the department from east to west over 80 km, from Mâcon to Digoin via Paray-le-Monial, the N70 which connects the latter to Montchanin over 40 km and the N80 from Montchanin in Chalon-sur-Saône (30 km), constitute the Burgundian portion of the Center-Europe Atlantic road (RCEA). Known for its high accident rate, it is gradually being transformed into a 2x2 lane expressway. The N5 crosses the Jura department for 70 km from Poligny to Champagnole and as far as Les Rousses, on the border between France and Switzerland. From Besançon to Poligny, the N83 stretches over sixty kilometres.


Rail transport

The rail network in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté is organized around the main cities: Besançon and Dijon. The main line is the Paris-Belfort line via Dijon and Besançon. This line is LGV from Paris to Montbard (LGV Sud-Est) and from Dijon to Belfort (LGV Rhin-Rhône). The territory is also crisscrossed by secondary roads, where mainly TER Bourgogne-Franche-Comté circulate, on a network of 1,951 km.

The largest station in the region is Dijon-Ville, which in 2019 welcomes 5.8 million passengers; Next come the stations of Besançon-Viotte (2.2 million passengers in 2019) and Belfort-Ville (1.1 million passengers in 2019). All the other stations served less than one million passengers in 2019. Note that the cities of Besançon, Belfort and Montbéliard have a second station on the LGV Rhin-Rhône: Besançon Franche-Comté TGV and Belfort - Montbéliard TGV .

The commissioning of the first phase of the eastern branch of the LGV Rhin-Rhône in 2011 made it possible to significantly shorten journey times. The journey time between Belfort and Paris (gare de Lyon) has thus been reduced from 3 h to 2 h 30 min, between Besançon and Paris from 2 h 30 min to 2 h, between Besançon and Lyon from 2 h 20 min to 1 h 55 min10 and between Besançon and Strasbourg, from 2 h 30 min to 1 h 40 min. At the same time, connections between several cities in the region have also been shortened, going from a journey of 1h to 0h30min between Dijon and Besançon and from 1h15min to 0h25min between Besançon and Belfort . In all, 14 stations are served by the TGV in the region.

Several extensions of the LGV Rhin-Rhône are planned: the second phase of the East branch, which will constitute 50 km of new line, including 35 km to the east and 15 km to the west, could be financed by 2027 or 2038 ; the West branch, in project, intended to connect the East branch to the LGV Sud-Est, and thus to the Paris region, crossing the Dijon conurbation by its eastern edge; finally, the southern branch, also at the project stage, which would represent approximately 150 km of new line to connect the eastern branch to Lyon and the LGV Méditerranée, ensuring a connection of the population basins of the cities of eastern France, from Benelux, Germany and northern Switzerland to the Lyon metropolitan area and the Mediterranean arc.


Air transport

The region is served by the only Dole-Jura airport, owned by the Jura departmental council. Located between Besançon and Dijon, it welcomed more than 100,000 passengers in 2018 and offers several regular lines in France or abroad.

The airports of Besançon - La Vèze and Dijon-Bourgogne are only geared towards business flights in the absence of regular commercial lines.

The absence of major airport structures is explained by the proximity of international airports in Paris, Basel, Geneva and Lyon, easily accessible from the region.


River transport

The region is served by many canals (Canal du Rhône au Rhin, Canal de Bourgogne, Canal du Centre, Canal du Nivernais, Canal lateral de Roanne à Digoin).



Middle Ages

The territory of present-day Burgundy and Franche-Comté was included in the 5th century in the kingdom of Burgundians, which was extended by the Merovingian kingdom of Burgundy. Under the Carolingians, the Treaty of Verdun in 843 led to a distinction between a "Frankish Burgundy", at the origin of the Duchy of Burgundy (current Burgundy), and an "Imperial Burgundy", or "Haute Bourgogne", where the county was of Burgundy (Franche-Comté). The two provinces pass under common vassalage (but remain under different sovereignties) from 1330 to 1361, by the first house of Burgundy, then by the dukes-counts Valois (1384-1477/1493) within the Burgundian States. They were separated at the end of the 15th century, the duchy being incorporated into the French royal domain while the county remained subject to the Countess Marie de Bourgogne and her descendants, the Habsburg-Burgundy.


Modern era

The County was only integrated into the kingdom of France after its conquest in 1678 by the troops of Louis XIV and the surrender of Dole, the former capital of Franche-Comté, while Besançon inherited the status of capital. The Duchy of Burgundy and Franche-Comté then formed two distinct provinces and generalities, with their own capital of government (respectively Dijon and Besançon).

Although most of its territory is attached to these two former provinces, the region also includes most of Nivernais (corresponding roughly to the department of Nièvre), part of Champagne (the northern part of the department of Yonne with Sens and Tonnerre in particular), part of Orléanais (the south-western part of Yonne with Toucy), the part of Alsace which remained French after 1871 (the current Territoire de Belfort), as well as a tiny part of Île-de-France (the northwestern part of Yonne).

The old provinces of France are suppressed during the Revolution.


Contemporary period

From 1941 to 1944, a regional prefecture of the Vichy regime brought together Burgundy and Franche-Comté, just like the igamy of Dijon from 1948 to 1964. However, when the regions were created as public establishments in 1972 and then as local authorities in 1982 , Burgundy and Franche-Comté form two separate regions.

In 2009, the Balladur committee proposed for the first time to merge Burgundy and Franche-Comté.

On April 14, 2014, the presidents of the Bourgogne and Franche-Comté regions, respectively François Patriat and Marie-Guite Dufay, announced during a press conference that they wanted to bring their two regions closer together following statements by Prime Minister Manuel Valls which wishes to simplify the French administrative division.

The following June 2, the two regions find themselves associated, unsurprisingly, on the map presented by the President of the Republic, François Hollande. These two regions are the only ones to have come together politically for a merger and, unlike other merger projects, the alliance between Burgundy and Franche-Comté is not reviewed by the National Assembly or by the Senate. Indeed, the two regions are partly historically and economically linked.

However, in 2015, the will to merge the two regions seems mainly to come from a few elected officials, even from the Burgundians. According to a BVA opinion poll for the regional press, the people of Burgundy and Francs-Comtois are 49% satisfied (against 41% dissatisfied) with their new region. The divide is much more pronounced between Burgundians and Francs-Comtois: they are respectively 57% and 37% satisfied with this division. The differences are even stronger on the question of the regional capital in Dijon: 79% of Burgundians consider that it is rather a good thing, against 29% of Francs-Comtois.


The year 2015 is a period of transition and rapprochement for the two regions. Three political bodies are in place:

the conference of regional presidents and their direct entourage who meet every month;
the Burgundy-Franche-Comté mixed commission (which brings together the different political tendencies) studies the files selected by the conference of presidents;
the conference of territories is responsible for making the link with the other communities (departments and municipalities in particular).

As part of Act III of decentralization, the merger of the two regions was adopted on December 17, 2014. It came into force on January 1, 2016.

The introduction of a right of option in the law relating to the delimitation of regions, however, allows the Territoire de Belfort to decide, after 1 January 2016, for integration into the new Grand Est region (Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne -Lorraine), mentioned by some elected officials.